Greenbudget Recap and Lessons For New Bloggers

Hello All,
This blog is for all of you. I am going to quickly recap what GreenBudget has accomplished so far, as well as give tips and tricks for new bloggers. Enjoy!

In 63 days Greenbudget has had:
• 2,031 views
• 31 blog posts
• 86 comments
• 9 information interviews

This has been an amazing experience. When I started blogging, I had no idea what this world was all about, but I quickly learned, this is a community that is very welcoming of new bloggers. I would like to share with you the things I have learned in order to help promote new bloggers, and perhaps even new green bloggers! Here are my top ten tips:

1. Talk to People: In my opinion, the best way to learn how to do something fast, is to talk to someone who already knows what they are doing. I was surprised to see how many people wanted to share ideas with me. Don’t be shy, just email people, let them know you are just starting and you want some help. If you want some help, let me know!

2. Ask People What They Want You to Write About: If any of you have seen my “suggestion for future postings” tab, you will see that very few people wrote things they wanted me to write about. So you are probably asking yourself why I am telling you to do this? When I started, almost every blogger I talked to advised me to ask my readers what they wanted me to write about. Now, I know my readers did not actually post on the page, but some sent me emails to my inbox. Which brings me to my next point…

3. If You Want to Facilitate Discussion, Do Not Disclose Your Email: At first I had no idea why people were sending comments to my email and I felt like somewhere on my blog, I told people to contact me ONLY by my email. I later found out that many bloggers have had the same problem and they suggested that I take it off in order to force people to comment on the site.

4. Post Walmart Articles: You are probably confused right? Funny enough, there are a lot of people out there who have a strong opinion about Walmart, and they are very loyal readers. I get at least 10 hits a day from people searching “Walmart Blog” and they get forwarded to my site. So whatever theme you have for your blog, write one post about Walmart, add a few pictures and you will have an automatic stream of readers!

5. Find A Theme: There are many blogs that have posts about everything! The best way to start is to pick a category, and then pick what you want to do with that category. For example, pick a topic that you are interested in, say baseball. Then, pick what you want to do with baseball…do you want to give stats or updates? or do you want to showcase a new player each week? or do you want to give tips and tricks about how to be a better baseball player? Whatever it is, do not try to tackle to much. Your audience will get lost and lose focus.

6. Vary Your Information and Use Tags:
Your readers will vary in their level of understanding of your topic. Be sure to very your information that you are providing so each segment of readers can enjoy your content. Also, make use of your tags. Tags key words, and make sure to tag names of big companies, celebrities, and hot topics.

7. Network With Your Blog: This is your blog, so use it! Brand your blog so it has you written all over it. Post a link in your signatures in your emails. Put your URL in your resume (trust me, they love this!). When you meet people, tell them you’re a blogger, it really says a lot about you. When you have conversations, throw in a “oh if you’re interested in that, you should check out my blog”. I actually have one guy in my class (shout out Ashish…) who calls me greenbudget, doesn’t really have the ring like “Katelyn” does, but it is an a identity, and I work it!

8. Pick an Easy Blog Name: Now I would suggest to be super creative in your name, but clearly “Greenbudget” isn’t going to win any creativity awards so I will leave that lecture for someone else. What I can say to you is…keep it simple stupid. Don’t spell “fat” like “phat” and don’t add an extra few letters into a new just because the one you originally wanted was taken. Also, make sure it is not too long, ideally, it should be no more 2-3 words. Your first, second, third, and fourth pick for a name will probably be taken, so don’t get discouraged. Find 4 or 5 that work, and ask friends and family to vote and then viola, you have a name!

9. Post on Other Blogs:
Some of my best readers came from me searching to find their blog, reading through several posts, and then commenting on their post and relating in back to my blog (and making them think that it is ABSOLUTELY necessary for them to read my blog).

10. Be Confident, Be you: My last piece of advice is to be confident. When I started this blog, I was not confident in my writing, and I am pretty sure I included no personality in my posts. As time went on, I gained confidence and saw that I had strength in my writing and my personality finally started to show (and I became attached to writing pointless messages in brackets…). If you start writing a post and it is just not coming out….STOP! Some days the juices are just not going to flow and you need to learn to accept this. Try to write every day. I post every second day, but I usually do my research the first day and then write in my second day. If on that second day my writing is just not happening, I take a break and try again, eventually those writer’s blocks go away and you feel a lot more confident.

Okay one last tip I promise…

Try not to let the blog consume you. During this semester my other classes took a backseat to this blog (…and I am kind of regretting it now, whose idea was finals anyways…). Everywhere I went I was thinking of things to blog about, it even got to the point where when I would go hang out with my friends and they would hand me articles to write about. I would even wake up in the morning with articles tapped to my door (thanks dad!) It is an awesome experience, and I love blogging, but make some goals for yourself, and make sure that you set a maximum time per day that you can spend writing and working on your blog.

Well I hope all of this information helped. When I was starting I wish I would of known these things so I thought I would share them with you. Now as I end this post, I will let you all know that I will be taking a break from blogging for a while in order to study for my finals. As I was saying, my other classes have been put on hold and I am paying for it now.

So have a good April my beloved readers!

Katelyn

Carbon Offsets Part 2

Well I am happy to see that quite a few of you clicked on the links to calculate your carbon emissions and footprints! Lets take a look at where you can purchase offsets.

Where should I purchase my offsets?

  • At CarbonZero you can purchase offsets and send them as gifts!
  • Try GreenNexxus, this is another site I  blog on.
  • Or just look on the Carbon Catalogue to see where you can find a carbon offset providor near you.

There are a few standards that exist for carbon offsets, including the VCS, Green-e, and The Gold Standard, and there will be more to come. The WWF recently published a comparison of the most common offset standards, as standards differs in key ways, with some being more rigorous than others.

Who is purchasing offsets?

Many celebrities are jumping on board with the new UK company called Future Forests where they can plant trees to offset the CO2 produced during the filming of their movies. Stars like Brad Pitt are choosing to go carbon neutral in their personal lives to help raise awareness.  But is planting trees really the answer?  Roger Highman from Friend of the Earth says “to deal with the increased carbon dioxide emissions we face over the next half century, you would have to cover Europe — from the Atlantic to the Urals — completely with trees”. Still, he credits the group with raising awareness, saying, “We are going to need the Brad Pitts of the world if we are going to save it from overheating.” Well in my opinion, I think the world could do with a few more Brad Pitts regardless of the climate change problem…..anyways

Companies like HSBC, Vancity, Google, Dell, and even bands like Coldplay and the Rolling Stones have committed to becoming carbon neutral. Hmm I could see my name fitting in there well, HSBC, Vancity, Google, Katelyn Weatherall, Dell, Coldplay…yupp I fit right in!

This is a commercial released by Sky in 2007 shows their commitment to becoming carbon neutral. This commercial is awesome.

Even if you end up just purchasing a few offsets to offset your driving, or your love for meat (yes, eating meat is bad for the environment, check out my other blog postings) you are making a difference, and it does not cost much at all!.

Have any of you ever purchased carbon offsets before? Where did you buy them from?

I hope you liked learning about carbon offsets!

Buying a Guilty Free Conscience (some call them carbon offsets) Part 1

carbon-offset-2

Ahh guilt, such a horrible feeling, yet it seems to always make you do the right thing (at least most of the time).  How about that feeling when you see something that you have to buy, or see a special on a trip to the tropics that you cannot say no to, how about when you spill your juice and the only thing to clean it up with is paper towl…. do all of these make you feel a little bit of guilt too?…you are probably searching for the connection… Well that product you just bought could have created so much pollution in the process of producing it, and that flight you took to the tropics pft.. mine as throw a envirnoment killer t-shirt on yourself.  Starting to make sense? Well for those of us who feel the after purchase guilt there is an answer to our problems, carbon offsets. Now, I know I make long postings, but I just cannot help it because I have so much to share with you, so I have made this a 2 part posting. Enjoy!

What are carbon offsets?

The David Suzuki Foundation states that a “carbon offset” is an emission reduction credit from another organization’s project that results in less carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than would otherwise occur.  Carbon offsets are typically measured in tons of CO2-equivalents.

Confused? If you have no heard of carbon offsets you are not alone. Take a look at this video…

How do I know how much carbon I am producing?

There are many sites out there that allow you to calculate you footprint, or carbon emissions. Take a look at the following sites:

In my next posting I will tell you where you can purchase offsets and who is already purchasing them. Also I will share with you a commercial from a company who has already committed to buying carbon offsets. I am sure you will love it!

Green Laundry Mats

First, I need to say thanks to Amanda for giving me the article with this information in it. One big thing I have noticed through the process of writing this blog is that everyone is very helpful. Its wonderful to have all the articles everyone is sending me, but please know, that if I don’t write about something you have sent me, its only because I am only 3/4 machine…so bare with me.

Today we are going to take a look at laundry mats. I will show you how you can make decisions that benefit yourself and the environment when cleaning your clothes.

A few things to point out about dry cleaning:

  • Inhaling the common dry-cleaning solvent perchloroethylene (perc) can cause dizziness, eye and respiratory irritation, and dizziness.  Long-term expose to this chemical can effect the liver, kidney, and has been linked to cancer.
  • Disposing of this chemical is difficult and when done incorrectly, it can contaminate groundwater.  Many laundry mats throwout billions of hangers, plastic clothes covers, lint (remember we can recycle this), dryer sheets, soap boxes, detergent bottles end up in the land fills each year.

So what can you do?

  • Shop around47808-earth-friendly-laundry-detergent
    • Smell your clothes. If they smell like chemicals….RUNNN!!! This not only means that they are not properly maintaining their machines, this also means that they are probably using harmful chemicals.
    • Look for laundry mats that use green products. Any products that have a biodegradable silicon-based solvents or pair liquid CO2 with earth safe detergents.  So to make this simpler, ask what kind of detergent they use and type it in to GoodGuide and see what the rating is. Also, here is a site that lists eco-friendly cleaners (sorry to all my local/Canadian readers, there are only American locations on here)
    • Ask what they recycle. If you don’t want to ask, watch what they do with the lint, bleach bottles, or soap boxes. (yes, this the excuse you have been looking for, you can be a spy!!)
  • Know the regulations
    • If you don’t know the eco-friendly regulations on laundry mats, this is because there is none…and this is clearly the point. If your cleaner claims to be organic and eco-friendly, find out for yourself.
    • Any carbon-based cleaning product is technically organic- including perc, so you might wan’t to not believe everything you hear.
  • Don’t always listen to the labelsweaterlabel
    • Just because it says “dry clean only” doesn’t mean you have to only dry clean it (I guess that is what the label is telling you though…hmmm) Try using woolite on the delicate cycle, or mix baby shampoo with lukewarm warm in your tub.
    • If your  clothes have lining, or angora ( but really, you are a loser if you buy angora, because technically you are wearing rabit, and that is NOT cool) leave it to the cleaners.
  • All that is left is the hangersaa01a03105-hanger
    • Try using compostable hangers, since I know you all have a compost after my other post (righhhttt?), take a look at Wheatware. You can buy 20 hangers for $18.50
    • If you can’t find it in your heart to compost, just try returning your wire hangers for them to reuse.

Okay well now that you know what you can do, laundry away! Hah, I bet that sounds like music to your ears…not. Well, on a positive notes, seeing as we are all NOT complaining this week, you can feel happy that when you are cleaning your clothes you are doing your part to help the environment.

How are you all doing with your NOT complaining? Let me know!

No Complaining! Follow Up

This is me complaining because I have been woken up at 5am, to fly to Calgary, paid for by my school... *inset suck it up princess here*

This is me complaining because I have been woken up at 5am, to fly to Calgary, paid for by my school... *insert suck it up princess here*

Hello All,

It is day 2 for my experiment with no complaining. It is actually going fairly good so far. To be honest, and trust me I would rather lie here, I think the main things I have complained about are all so trivial. I noticed that I liked to complain about gas prices, and funny enough, I didn’t even realize how much I was complaining about American Idol. Also, I found myself constantly complaining about being cold, but trust me, when you go to school on the top of a mountain, (my fellow SFUers know what I am talking about) there is a bone chilling cold as soon as you step foot outside, or maybe it is just because I am at school (which is another thing I like to complain about).  As you can see in my picture (yes that is me, horrible picture I know, but I thought I would forgo my pride for the sake of my blog) I HATE waking up super early. I am a night owl, I average going to bed anytime between 2-4am, so this  is another area where I need to stop complaining. Once I realized that I was complaining about small things, I quickly became more self-aware of the comments I was making. I tried to step into someone else’s shoes who would be ecstatic to be able to watch American Idol, it made me feel really bad, but it made me realize that I should just be quiet and watch the show.

So I see a few of you have posted your complaints underneath, and the stats tell me that lots of you have been reading the complaint post too. It has been 2 days since the post, how are you doing?complaints

In my opinion this is a very important skill to master, especially if you want to be someone who cares about the environment or any social causes.  Society likes to think that the best way to deal with global warming is to charge people taxes on carbon, or try to make new products that use less energy, but the core concept here is consuming less. One of the biggest characteristics you must posses in order to consume less is appreciating and realizing what you already have, and a great first step to understanding this concept is complaining less. So if you have been wondering how this ties in to greening your life on a budget, there is your answer!

Let me know how you are doing pleeeaasee! Submit your complaints anonymously, I can see that lots of you are reading this post, but I just cant get any of you to comment! Come on, if I can post such a horrible picture of myself, you can post your common complaints you make below.

Stop Complaining!

299122321_e9c75c89a8It occurred to me today as I was standing in line at Staples that everyone loveesss to complain, and for some reason, everyone thinks there problem is 10x worse than the next. I guess I shouldn’t really talk, I was very frustrated that it was going to take 2 hours to get a few things printed, but then I thought, really, how lucky are we to be able to print things in 2 hours! This brought me to look over the internet to see what people had to think of this subject, and of course, like any topic on the internet, many people had an opinion. I came across this really neat site called A Complaint Free World. On the homepage there is a quote that I love, it said…

If you don’t like something CHANGE IT. If you can’t change it, CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE; don’t complain.”                – Maya Angelou

How true is that quote? (I will come back to this quote at the end of this post) Now this site sells books and bracelets in hopes of making you complain less, but…since I do bring you tips and tricks on a budget I will save you money by telling you to NOT spend money on any more of these bracelet things! (not the best tip right?…) Is it really a difficult concept? I guess it involves us becoming more self-aware, but through all the articles I have been reading about complaining, it seems like people do it because they want someone to listen to them. So here is where I come in!!

The Challenge

  1. Stop Complaining!
  2. Every time you want to complain, write it down, don’t say it or complain to anyone. Make sure you write down the complaints that you thinking about and would not think about saying, because ironically, those are the ones that create the most stress. Write down things like “Ahh my back hurts” or “I do not want to go to work/school today” or “Why is the grocery line taking so long”
  3. At the end of the day, read or reflect on all the complaints you had. Think about how many of those complaints homeless people would make, or hungry people in Africa, or a man or woman who just lost their job and has 5 kids.**** Number 3 can really make you feel like crap, trust me. But its a good crap, its an awareness crap.
  4. Take your list of complaints and submit them anonymously to the comment thread below this posting. Make sure you submit them without your real name (put in your favorite super hero, or famous person). This is your way to release these thoughts without sharing it with anyone.

Does this seem like something you can do? Make it a 1 day challenge, or a 10 day challenge, or make it part of your life.  I am going to start by doing it for 1 week and I hope you all join me. I am not going to tell you what my secret name is (hopefully other people post, or else you will know who I am…haha)

In today society it seems like there is this growing trend to complain about everything, to the point where it seems normal to hear people complain so much. The quote above is so relevant to these times, and perhaps when you look back at your complaints, you might look at them as an opportunity to make a change. Or, you might see that many people have the same complaints, and maybe you have an answer to them, orrr maybe you can just tell them to suck it up princess.

Lets stop complaining (unless it is in a comment below).

I look forward to hearing your complaints so I can feel more normal :)

Paper Bags versus Plastic Bags

So, your at the till ready to pay for your groceries and you get asked, “would you like to use paper or plastic bags?” What is your answer? This is the age old question, and groceries chains like Choices still ask this question to each of there customers.

So do you answer Paper?paper

  • According to the Wall Street Journal only 1 to 3% of paper bags actually get recycled.
  • According to the Federal Office of the Environment, paper sacks generate 70% more air and 50 times more water pollutants than plastic bags.
  • In 1999, 14 million trees were cut to produce the 10 billion paper grocery bags used by Americans that year alone.

So I guess you choose Plastic?plastc

  • Franklin Associates concluded that the manufacture of plastic bags produced considerably less air pollution, water borne wastes, and industrial solid-waste than the manufacture of paper.
  • Plastic bags are lighter, they also produce less post-consumer solid waste, taking up less space in landfills.
  • Plastic bags required slightly less energy to manufacture at a use rate of 1.5 to 1 compared with paper and more energy at a use rate of 2 to 1. BUT!!! Paper bags are better because they are made from wood, a renewable resource, while plastic bags are made from petroleum.
  • Annddd… plastic bags take longer to degrade, in fact, nothing completely degrades in modern landfills because of the lack of water, light, oxygen and other important elements that are necessary for the degradation process to be completed.

So which one do you choose? Confused perhaps?

imagesWell the answer here really is neither. Bring your own reusable back.  If you do forget your bag, and you are faced with the decision between paper and plastic, pick the one that you think you will use again.

Moral of the story,  this question is irrelevant since the answer is in the reusable bag. Now you need to spread this idea farther than the grocery store. For example, bring a reusable bag to the mall, so you don’t need to get a bag after each purchase! I’ve put a few good links below that can show you places to buy reusable bags that are a tad stylish (this way you don’t have to put your new Guess Jeans in your reusable Safeway bag).

Chicobag

Bazura Shop

Envirosax

Until next time,

Kate

How Well Do You Know Your Compost? Answers

So I see many of you tried to answer, and I am surprised some of you were so close! Since none of you answered all perfectly, and there seemed to be a high level of interest in this topic, I will explain the answers to you below.

eggshells1. Eggshells
YES! Egg shells provide good digestive grit for compost worms, but the worms will only eat the shells if they are crushed into fine pieces. The eggshell pieces are also a source of calcium for the finished compost.

2. Lint
YES! Lint from the dryer and even from vacuum cleaners can be added safely to your compost pile. Try to avoid using synthetic dryer sheets, to avoid transferring chemicals to your compost, but lint made of mostly organic fibers like cotton and wool (a ‘brown’ or carbon source), and even the pet hair sucked up in the vacuum, is a-ok for health compost.

3. Pet Waste
NO! Avoid adding waste from dogs and cats, such as feces or soiled cat litter, to your compost pile, especially if you plan to use the compost for a vegetable garden. Like human excrement, which you should also never compost at home, pet waste can contain parasites, bacteria, germs, or pathogens that are harmful to humans.

4. Coffee Groundscoffee
YES! Nitrogen-rich coffee grounds are a great addition to a compost pile, and even for mulching plants in your garden. Even the paper filters that you brew coffee in can be composted. Tea leaves also make for good compost material, as do tea bags, strings, and paper tags–just avoid the metal staples and plastic-coated or nylon bags, which won’t break down.

5. Cheese

NO! Dairy products like cheese, milk, butter, and yogurt don’t break down quickly in a passively managed home compost pile due to a high fat content. They create odor problems and attract rodents, flies, and other pests to your compost pile.

6. Citrus Fruit

NO! Due to their high concentration of oils, citrus fruits can take years to decompose in a compost pile. What’s more, the worms in worm farm composting systems will not eat citrus, and the high acid content can upset the balance of your compost pile.

7. Hay
YES! Hay, straw, or even wood chips can be a valuable source of nutrients for your compost pile. Layering these drier materials with the wetter ones from your kitchen or garden clippings also helps to maintain balance in the pile, and can help to keep out air, which contributes to a better environment for decomposition.

8. Meat and Fish
NO! Meat and fish take a long time to break down, can contribute to unpleasant odors, and attract unwanted pests to your compost heap. Best to avoid tossing them in the compost.

9. Diseased Plants

NO! Plants ridden with disease or insects do not belong in compost that you intend to use in your garden, as diseases and insects may survive and be transferred to healthy plants. Weeds can be composted if your compost pile gets hot enough, but be sure to dry them out first by laying them in the sun.

vege10. Fruits and Vegetables
YES! Most fruits and vegetables break down quickly and contribute to soil health. Some fruits, like citrus, take a long time to decompose and should be avoided in a home compost pile. Denser organic waste, like corn cobs, should be shredded for faster decomposition.

11. Charcoal Ashes
NO! Ashes from coal or charcoal contain chemicals that can harm plants–not to mention grease drippings from the grill that can attract pests.

So how did you do? Looks like a few of you did good!!

Here is a list of what NOT to put in.

Any meat or dairy products
Anything cooked including vegetables (these attract rats and flies)
Oils (such as vegetable oil)
Cigarette ends
Plastic bags
Dog and cat feces (including the litter from a tray)
Glossy magazines
Diseased plants
Any plants which have been treated with chemicals
Thorny plants

Again, thanks to American Progress for providing these answers. Happy Composting!

How Well Do You Know Your Compost?

hands_in_compostWell, let me first start by saying, I am sure most of you don’t even have a compost. So my first big message right now is COMPOST COMPOST COMPOST. I am not going to act like a hero here because the truth is, my compost isn’t much, but a little compost can make a big difference. Now you don’t need to have a big stinky compost bin conveniently sitting in your front yard for all your neighbors to complain about, there are other options. One of these option is called NatureMills Compost. This is an awesome compost that can be put right in your home (and I mean indoors!). Now I will be the first one to admit that this product is going to cost you a fair bit of change, but in the long run I think you will definitely find it worth it.

hiw_kitchenThere is 3 easy steps to making this compost work.

1. Add waste items- any time, any day
Add vegetables, coffeegrounds, even dairy meat or fish!

2. The NatureMill compost does the rest.
The upper chamber mixes, heats, and aerates. Compost later transfers to the lower chamber, so you can add fresh items.

3. Remove compost fertilizer
Empty every 2 weeks, when the red light comes on.

Okay so now that you can get a compost without having a big stink pit, lets learn what you can and can’t put in a compost. Write down your answers and I will post them for you in my next entry… orrr just click here for the answers.

Can you compost…

1. Eggs?
2. Lint?
3. Pet Waste?
4. Coffee Grounds?
5. Cheese?
6. Citrus Fruit?
7. Hay?
8. Meat and Fish?
9. Diseased Plants?
10. Fruits and Vegetables?
11. Charcoal Ashes?

The big thing here is that you should use a compost instead of throwing away food. Landfills are one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions. I urge you to try to make a compost work, with products like NatureMills compost out there it is easier than you think.